TAYLOR: Stringent rules govern N.S. business immigration



We’ve all heard that before, but the province isn’t ready to throw the door open to just anyone.

According to criteria released by the provincial government late last year, qualifying for Nova Scotia’s new business immigration streams, which officially started Jan. 1, isn’t such an easy road to citizenship.

The entrepreneur stream and international graduate entrepreneur stream of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program stipulate that only business people with a plan to operate a business that will increase value-added manufacturing or processing, exports, destination tourism, research and development, and technology commercialization need apply.

Well, there are a few more categories that also qualify under the business immigration option.

It is also open to entrepreneurs who will operate a business employing innovative methods within a traditional business. Those who will bring technology and specialized knowledge to Nova Scotia also qualify, as do those who provide products or services to an under-served market within the Atlantic region.

Not only that, but the Nova Scotia government acknowledges that fraud and misrepresentation are often associated with business immigration programs, so the program and the entrepreneurs will be watched closely. Nova Scotia will soon hire auditors to test the integrity of the programs.

Let us not forget Nova Scotia tried this once before, with dismal results.

Nobody likes to talk about it now, but back in 2002 the provincial government’s business mentorship program offered a similar road to Canadian citizenship to wealthy and skilled immigrants.

Those immigrants who qualified paid $130,000 to be placed with a Nova Scotia company. The individual was paid at least $20,000 annually, with businesses getting up to $80,000 to cover costs; about $30,000 went to cover program fees

But that program, now defunct, was not well designed and there were not enough qualified mentors to go around. Many of the immigrants were not well-served and felt they were not getting their money’s worth from the program they signed up for.

The mentorship program was the subject of a scathing report by Jacques Lapointe, the provincial auditor general at the time.

The provincial government followed that up with refunds to the applicants who still lived in the province, but many more left the province out of frustration and were not reimbursed.

The scandal put a blight on the province’s reputation and damaged Nova Scotia’s ability to meet immigration targets for many years.

The mentorship stream no longer exists. Now the provincial government has developed a lengthy list of business types that will not qualify under the nominee program.

Those who aim to gain Canadian citizenship through the business streams will not qualify if the business is conducted remotely, either within Canada or from another country, according to the list compiled by the government.

Immigrants who plan to operate a property rental, investment or leasing business will not qualify either, says the criteria. So, ironically, businesses involved in real estate will not qualify despite the fact some of Nova Scotia’s most prominent immigrant entrepreneurs are successful real estate developers.

Insurance brokerages or business brokerages are not eligible for either of the immigration streams unless the business can be proven to be of compelling benefit to the province.

Professional services or self-employed business operators requiring licensing or accreditation do not qualify. Nor do payday loan, cheque cashing, money changing and cash machine businesses.

Pawnbrokers are not considered suitable businesses under the program, nor are credit unions and co-operatives.

Home-based businesses, unless they can be proven to provide a benefit to the province, are not eligible.

Businesses based around passive investment income will fail to qualify for either of the streams. The same goes for any hopeful planning a joint venture with another applicant to the Nova Scotia Nominee Program.

Not surprisingly, the government doesn’t want to be involved with bringing businesses involved in the production, distribution or sale of pornographic or sexually explicit products or services.

Or, for that matter, any other type of business that could damage Nova Scotia’s reputation.



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